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“The girls here want to try out for the [boys] team…You're all excellent players…But girls aren't as fast as boys. Or as strong. Or as athletic. This is not me talking. It's a scientific fact. Girls can't beat boys. It's as simple as that.”1
This quote by a male soccer coach from the film She’s The Man depicts perfectly
the stigmatic reality female athletes live in today- One of serious gender inequality. Unfortunately, you’ve probably heard opinions similar to this all your life. Because the reality is that we all live in a man’s world. In fact, the world of sports is obviously not the only area in which women around the world are facing this persistent battle for equal rights and recognition…
Did you know?
As you can see there are many serious battles that women are fighting world-wide. We believe that no woman should struggle with any sort of inequality in any aspect of their life. We hope that by gaining ground and improving equality in the world of athletics, we will speed up the trend of equal rights for women all over the world.
The Real Issue
Capable talented female athletes all over the world are still being avoided, rejected, and discouraged to participate in male dominated sports.
“Although women are equal to men under the law [in the United States], they are not equal in the world of sport. Women can vote, be CEOs of a Fortune 500 company, or be collegiate and professional athletes, just like any man. Women can do almost anything that men can do, but the way they are viewed within the athletics world does not match their actual abilities.”3
Gina Duffy, founder of SheShreds.co, says, “Sure, we've come a long way with respect to feminism. But girls are still being discouraged from playing sports like football or from playing rough-and-tumble games. This social mentality has encouraged a very distinct separation between males and females, which obviously extends beyond action sports.”
Duffy continues, “There are major inequalities of women in male-dominated sports. I blame social conditioning. I'm not an anthropologist or a social theorist. But I believe that the roles of men and women, the idea of masculinity & femininity, are constructed and often nurtured by society's values- which are often misguided.”
Duffy states, “Some may argue that it is just physically impossible for women to compete alongside or against men. I disagree. What's impossible is the fact that women are up against generations of social conditioning telling us that we shouldn't... and can't. My opinion as an athlete, is that the power of will & might can be just as influential as genetics. Truth is females bleed red and train hard just the same as males. Females are also pioneering many firsts especially in action sports.”
The point is not that we need to fight against men because they are the enemy. It is more of a struggle to convince society that we are just as deserving, profitable, and necessary to this world as men are. It’s finding the courage to demand respect, fight for opportunity, and to tell ourselves, “you can do this.” We need to trust ourselves and rally together as a society.
Rather than saying "shouldn't" and "can't" to our girls, let's change the conversations and observations on the hill, the water and beyond. We control the buying power in our households. If we impact change in action sports, it will run over into other parts of society, one step at a time.
What you can do to help
Duffy believes that we “are in the midst of a cultural shift and things, they are a changin’.”Let’s be passionate about empowering our girls. The world is only going to change if we each do our part. Here are some ways you can help women gain equal ground in the world of sports.
If you see something and you don’t like it, especially in online magazines or on social media, comment on it. Say something, even if it might get you some flack, it will feel good and do good to speak your mind. Share the post and offer your concerns about the content and get others to do the same. Share it on your favorite athlete or brand’s social media page(s). You might be surprised how they get behind an issue if they perceive it as such and use their reach and influence to effect change.
For example, in the world of competitive wakeboarding, and throughout the culture of the sport, female athletes are often treated as second class. Most recently, The Pro Wakeboard Tour, part of the point’s race toward the highest divisional titles the sport has to offer, dropped pro women from this year’s tour, leaving the world’s highest level female wakeboarders high and dry. This slight by the presenting entities with no warning just weeks before the competitive season starts inspired some big talk and action from the women in wakeboarding and beyond. Thanks to a deluge of posts, emails and outcries directed at these specific event presenters and the sanctioning body, there is a newly chartered organization to benefit girls and women advancing through the competitive ranks. There are also changes being made to the judging criteria with the sanctioning body and more events coming online to replace the ones lost as well as an increasing opportunity for competition at all levels of the sport for females. There are now formidable organizations in place to ensure things like this don’t happen in that sport again.
You see what sharing your opinion can do?
Follow and support not only your favorite big time female athletes but all of those around you. Join a social media group that encourages and supports your sport. You will be amazed at the response you may get from your favorite pro along with how much it might mean to an athlete coming up the ranks!
Check out https://www.facebook.com/ShredSisters. This group encourages girls to get out and wakeboard. It is supported by some of the biggest female (and male) names in the sport along with some of the most active brands and retailers.
Another to look at if snow is your game is www.shredbetties.com. It celebrates everything for chicks that snowboard.
Got the skate bug in the U.S.? Check out www.girlsskatenetwork.com and www.girlisnota4letterword.com. If you are in the UK, check out www.facebook.com/skategirlsproduction and www.facebook.com/girlskatesession. These groups are across the pond in the UK and Europe but are making things happen and growing the scene for girls who skate.
Grab as many of your girlfriends as you can and…..Go to an event and compete or cheer on the girls that are, go to a wake park and take over the cable with your crew, go to a skate park and take over the boy’s lines, or go to the ski hill and show them who’s boss.
Make sure to document the fun and progression and showcase it on social media. Many other outlets will feature your photos and videos if you just send it in. By doing so, you will be inspiring other girls to get in on the action.
Women spend so much time playing the comparison game, trying to be like someone else. Stop it! Just be you and all that entails. Don’t be afraid to reach out to female athletes around you. Be kind and be encouraging- after all we all could use a boost. And hey, you just might make another friend to shred with.
Because ladies... it's a man's world, until it isn't. Let’s take our rightful place. Shred on, Sisters. Shred on!